Vasectomy is a simple, safe and effective means of permanent contraception or birth control. Because of the way that male sexual organs are positioned, the procedure is very straight-forward. It is intended to provide a man permanent contraception, or make him unable to father a child in the future by dividing and closing off the ends of the vas deferens (the tubes that carry sperm) - preventing sperm from getting through. A total of about 50 million men have had a vasectomy — approximately 5% of all married men of reproductive age. More than 500,000 men elect to have vasectomies every year in the U.S.
Other than totally avoiding sexual intercourse, no method of birth control is 100% effective. In rare cases after a vasectomy, roughly 1 in 10,000 cases, it is possible for sperm to cross the separated ends of the vas deferens. Overall, the failure rate of vasectomy is exceedingly low. It has been used for many years as a means of birth control and has a long track record as being safe and effective.
Semen samples are routinely checked after vasectomy to confirm a successful procedure. If dead or live sperm continue to appear in the semen samples, a repeat vasectomy may be necessary. Fortunately, this only happens approximately once in every 10,000 cases, a failure rate far less than for any other form of birth control. For instance, condoms fail about 1% of the time, or 1 out of every 100 times one is used.
Your healthcare provider will go over your health history as it relates to vasectomy and will do a brief physical examination. Tell your provider if you have any of the following:
You will be asked to sign a consent (permission slip) for the procedure. The form will state that you understand vasectomy and its risks. This includes that you understand the procedure isn’t guaranteed (as no medical procedure is or can be). Before you sign this form, make sure that you understand all of these things and that you’re comfortable with your decision. It is important that you resolve any questions or concerns before taking action. Remember that vasectomy is an elective procedure, so you should not proceed with it until you are sure it is the right choice for you.
Do not take any of these products for seven days before surgery unless you are told to do so by your healthcare provider. Taking these medications increases the risk of bleeding. They are:
Shaving and washing
The night before or the morning of the vasectomy, shave away the hair from the entire scrotum. Remove the hair all the way to the top of the penis, including any pubic hair that seems to fall onto the scrotum. Do not use an electric razor on the scrotum. A single blade disposable razor is the best choice.
To reduce the risk of infection, thoroughly wash the scrotum and groin the day before and the morning of the surgery.
There are two types of vasectomies. One is called an incision vasectomy, and the other is called a no-scalpel vasectomy. Both are done in doctors' offices or outpatient surgery centers. Both use local anesthesia to numb the scrotum. The anesthesia is given as a shot.
Both types of vasectomies divide and close off the ends of the vas deferens (the tubes that carry sperm), preventing sperm from getting through. This stops the sperm from mixing with the semen and being released when a man ejaculates during an orgasm.
The surgeon will make an opening in the skin and grasp the vas deferens. The vas deferens is then divided and tied, clipped or cauterized. Cauterizing closes cuts with an electrical current.
There is little discomfort with a vasectomy. The scrotum will be numb, but some men feel a slight "tugging" sensation or a feeling of things moving around. Your surgeon will decide if you need stitches, depending upon how they routinely do the procedure.
It’s common to have some of these symptoms after a vasectomy. They should go away within 72 hours of surgery. However, if you have an unusual amount of pain, extreme swelling of the scrotum, continued bleeding, or a fever (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit), call your doctor immediately.
After a vasectomy, the testicles continue to make sperm. When the sperm cells die, they disintegrate and are absorbed by the body. This is the same way the body handles other types of cells that die and are replaced every day.
Complications such as inflammation (swelling), bleeding, or infection may occur, but they are relatively uncommon and not serious. Minor risks include:
The risks of vasectomy must be weighed against other options, including the chance of another pregnancy if you do not have the vasectomy.
Vasectomy offers many advantages as a method of birth control. The main benefit is effectiveness. A vasectomy is over 99.99% effective in preventing pregnancies. Like female tubal ligation, vasectomy is a one-time procedure that provides permanent contraception. If you compare female contraception procedures (like tubal ligation) to vasectomy, you will see that vasectomy:
So, if you are asking which is better, tubal ligation or vasectomy, vasectomy is better in many ways.
This usually means:
Basically, the answer to these questions is no! Vasectomy does not affect testosterone production or release. (Testosterone is the male hormone that is responsible for a man's sex drive, facial hair, deep voice and other masculine traits.)
Vasectomy does not affect sexuality in a negative way. Erections, climaxes, and the amount of ejaculate remain the same. The only difference is that your semen will no longer contain sperm. Often, men who have had the procedure find that sex with their partners is more spontaneous and enjoyable because they no longer have to worry about pregnancy or interrupting things to apply contraception.
Many studies have looked at the long-term health effects of vasectomy. The evidence suggests that no significant risks exist. Men who have had a vasectomy are no more likely than other men to develop cancer, heart disease, or other health problems. This is spelled out in the Vasectomy Guideline of the American Urological Association.
Most men are able to go back to work in less than a week. You may need to be out for a full week if your work is strenuous and physical.
Everyday activities can be resumed a few days (usually 48 to 72 hours) after the procedure unless the activities are unusually vigorous. Men surveyed after vasectomy report full recovery in an average of eight to nine days.
Sexual activity can be resumed seven days after a vasectomy, but precautions (another form of contraception) should be taken against pregnancy until sperm counts show that the semen is free of sperm. In general, a semen analysis is completed about two to three months after a vasectomy.
No. Sperm can remain in the vas deferens above the area of the procedure for weeks or even months after a vasectomy. A semen test is done two to three months after the procedure. If the result meets American Urological Association guidelines, you are considered sterile. If sperm is seen, the semen test is repeated, usually a month later. Until then, you must continue using other birth control to prevent pregnancy.
It’s very important to go back to your doctor and do the semen test. This is the only way to make sure that there is no sperm in the semen. Frequent ejaculation, starting a week after vasectomy, can help clear the sperm and increase the chances of having a semen analysis return clear.
While vasectomy reversal is an option if you decide you want another child, it may also be expensive and is generally not covered by insurance. You should consider vasectomy if you are confident you do not want to father more children.
Some men might consider storing sperm in a sperm bank before you have a vasectomy. Most requests for reversals come from men in newer relationships who want children with their new partners.
You should consider vasectomy a permanent means of birth control. Men who are married or in a serious relationship should discuss this issue with their partners. If you're thinking about a reversal now, perhaps you should take more time to decide if a vasectomy is right for you.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 03/04/2020